On Friday evening, Mr. Trump again repeatedly praised his governmentâs response to the Puerto Rico hurricane during remarks to reporters before leaving for his New Jersey club for the weekend.
âItâs going really well, considering,â Mr. Trump said. He added: âWeâve made tremendous strides. Very tough situation.â Later, he said, âPeople canât believe how successful itâs been.â
But the disconnect between what officials in Washington were saying and the situation on the ground in Puerto Rico was captured on live television by the response of the mayor of San Juan when she was played a clip of the acting Homeland Security secretary, Elaine Duke, saying that she was âvery satisfiedâ with the governmentâs response. Ms. Duke called it âa good news story in terms of our ability to reach people and the limited number of deaths that have taken place.â
The retort from Mayor Carmen YulÃn Cruz: âThis is, damn it, this is not a good news story. This is a âpeople are dyingâ story. This is a âlife or deathâ story. This is âthereâs a truckload of stuff that cannot be taken to peopleâ story. This is a story of a devastation that continues to worsen.â
Mr. Trumpâs political adversaries quickly pounced on what they said was evidence of a lack of interest or urgency on the part of the president. And some saw an echo of the comments made in 2005 by former President George W. Bush, when he praised then-FEMA head Michael Brown for doing âa heck of a jobâ in the midst of what was widely seen as a slow and botched recovery effort in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
âThe problem is, and this is what felled the Bush administration: images tell the whole story,â said Dan Pfeiffer, who served as a communications director and senior adviser for former President Barack Obama. âYou had Trump on Twitter saying one thing, and then you…